We all want to make good choices, particularly when it comes to decisions regarding finances, medical care, and maintaining family harmony. However, it is not always so simple.
Sometimes, there are family situations where one spouse is managing finances, and the other is unaware and disengaged. If something were to happen to the spouse in charge, due to a medical emergency or crisis, it could be very difficult or may even be impossible for the well spouse to take over.
Also, there are families where both spouses manage finances. If something were to happen to both of them, and they were unable to act on their own behalf, due to incapacity or disability, and could not make medical and financial decisions for themselves, it would be a tremendous difficulty.
In both of these scenarios, without the legal authority to step in, your family members, or other loved ones, would be stuck, and forced to go to court to gain the legal authority you would need.
Unfortunately, no one cares if you are the spouse, child or close family member of someone who loses capacity. Without the right legal documentation in place, you and your family lose control over finances and medical decision making.
If you want to ensure the person(s) you choose will step in to make financial and medical decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself, or if you want someone you trust to be there for your spouse, if you cannot, you need to make good choices.
If you choose to do nothing or download cheap forms from the internet that most likely will not work, you are bound to lose control. Without the right legal documentation, someone else will be making those decisions for you. It could be a nurse, doctor, facility staff member, or a court, who knows nothing about you or your family, and the appointment could be the last person you would want in charge, or even a total stranger.
However, once you choose who those people you trust are, with the proper legal documentation, you maintain control. With the right legal documentation, you are the one choosing who will step in for you and your spouse if either of you, or both of you, are unable to make choices regarding medical care and finances. That person(s) will be someone you trust, who knows your wishes, and other family members will not be left guessing and arguing about what you may have wanted, in court.
With the right legal advance directives prepared, which include a power of attorney and health care proxy, you can officially designate individuals to make decisions related to your medical care and finances if you cannot make them yourself.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to decide who makes legal and financial decisions for you if you lose physical or mental ability to manage your financial affairs. Even during a medical crisis, life is continuing on outside of the hospital, and time sensitive decisions may need to be made. Without the legal authority, valuable assets could be lost and may even become unrecoverable.
Health Care Proxy
A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that enables you to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf if you can no longer make them yourself.
Not all Health Care Proxies are created equally. You can give more, or less authority, be more specific or less specific. Also, if you are Jewish, and observant, there are Health Care Proxies that can be prepared to ensure any medical decisions are made according to Jewish law and puts hospitals on notice your situation needs additional consideration.
When you make good choices, and prepare the right medical advance directives, you are making your wishes clear to your family members, resolving potential disagreements about your care. This is particularly important when you have family members who have different ideas about health care, that do not align with yours.
You can make good choices and choose not to unnecessarily burden your family. Simply, planning now, for the events you can’t predict is a good choice. We are living in times when properly drafted advance directives are more important now than ever.